IT'S THE KIND of tale that would make anyone's skin crawl.
Gary Dudek, 54 of Wallingford, Delaware County, allegedly stole $357,000 worth of human skin from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital from November 2011 to July of last year.
Hospital employees were conducting record checks in the bioscience department in January when they saw Dudek take skin grafts to his car, according to court records. And although the employees weren't sure how long this allegedly had been going on, they found past surveillance footage of two similar instances.
Dudek was arrested Monday and charged with theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with records.
From September 2006 to September 2013, Dudek worked as a "tissue-regeneration specialist" - a sales representative - for Organogenesis, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in regenerative medicine, a company spokeswoman said.
But in that capacity, Dudek would have had no use for human skin, said the spokeswoman, Angelyn Lowe, director of corporate communications at Organogenesis.
"We're known as the most ethical company in the business," she said.
Lowe said the firm does not buy or sell skin grafts, patches of skin used mostly as replacements for large infections, burns or wounds. Instead, she said, Organogenesis developed a product called Apligraf, made of collagen and skin cells designed to mimic human skin.
Dudek's job title allowed him to order grafts whenever he needed, according to court records. The hospital only needed three in stock at a time, but Dudek ordered an unauthorized 219 - valued at $1,700 each - which the hospital never saw, the records say.
Philadelphia police said they were unaware of a motive or of what happened to the grafts allegedly ordered by Dudek.
Neither Dudek nor his attorney, Eugene Tinari, responded to Daily News requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Mercy Hospital, in West Philadelphia, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Dudek's preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 10.